Ready for a little inside baseball? The video games press has a love/hate relationship with PR companies. In many situations, they are the gatekeepers that stand between us and developers. Interactions with PR can be pleasant and other times it’s a frustrating experience. We have to work with public relations companies everyday in order to secure things like review copies, interviews and comments for stories. Sometimes we can get direct access to smaller indie developers that don’t have PR companies handling communications for them, but for the most part, it’s all PR. Since maintaining a good working relationship with each other is essential for our jobs, it’s imperative for us to know what makes the other tick. A PR company called Evolve is putting the conversation out in the open in a way we rarely see. Its goal is to make its company and other video game PR companies better for the gaming media.
In a blog post, Evolve founder Tom Ohle talks about a survey that asked various members of the media “What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to PR reps?” The responses that were submitted are pretty common in this line of work. We don’t like it when PR doesn’t respond to our inquires, we’re put off by pitch emails that lacks a personal touch and we are irritated when responses to our specific inquires end up being answers to a question we didn’t ask. Evolve’s goal is to do the opposite of this by replying to every email, sending better targeted pitches and adding a personal touch to communications.
So why do certain PR representatives behave in this way? I can tell you they aren’t bad people. They’re just regular folks that have to wake up and do the same job everyday like everyone else. I think a lot of PR get very similar messages and calls every day of the week until it just becomes noise. I understand the feeling. When I first got started in retail, I was more than happy to go out of my way to make each customer’s experience the best thing ever. But after holding on to all that enthusiasm for so long, I just wanted to give them want they wanted and send them on their way. If someone was unhappy, it didn’t bother me anymore. That line of work has the tendency to make a person jaded. I’d imagine working PR has similar effects.
Now that doesn’t mean PR gets a pass for not being helpful. I think if you’re going to take a job that requires you to conduct business with the public, you have to suck and up be as helpful as possible. Like Ohle’s post says, “Ignoring those inquiries not only damages your relationship with those outlets and — more importantly — the writers, but also can have a detrimental effect on your PR campaign, resulting in less coverage of your client/company/game/whatever.”
Some may consider Evolve’s way of publicizing ways to improve the relationship between the games press and PR to be a clever move to make themselves more attractive to the press and potential clients. That may very well be the case. After all, the tagline at the bottom of its website says, “We write about making PR and stuff not suck.” But should Evolve follow through with what it’s preaching and develops a more personal, polite and respective way of dealing with the press, it’ll deserve the positive attention. We see too many examples of bad PR in this industry. Let’s start talking about the good for a change.
Disclosure: In the interest of transparency, I want to point out the recent Anomaly: Korea preview on GamerTell was made possible by an early preview code that was supplied by Evolve PR. The advance coverage for that game had no effect on this article.